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Virtual Browsers: Anonymous Web Proxies: Safest?

by robb7thurston / June 28, 2008 10:55 AM PDT

I recently had an incident with a trojan and am getting more aware of
safe hex. Safe Surfing.
I run WinXP with Defender as well as PC Tools Antivirus and Spyware
Doctor. My server offers McAffee and i will probably move over there.
What remains is safe hex.
This question concerns safe hex. I have seen a couple of Virtual
Browsers such as Green Borders and Sandboxie. I have also recently
renewed an old interest in Anonymous Web Proxies like Jaxxax.com.
QUESTION (1): Is there a strong perception that either Virtual
Browsers (Green Borders etc.), or Anonymous Web Proxies are safer,
less penetrable, better in general?;
QUESTION (2): I see that Jaxxax will get me to Google, or Yahoo, etc,
and that such search engines function after being invoked by Jaxxax.
So, if, say, i go to Jaxxax and then to Google, and from Google, I use
Google's search to get me to, say, Fox News, am i still free from
cookies and scripts and so on, when i read on through Fox? I did not
call up Fox from Jaxxax, i went to Fox from the Google browswer--so am
I protected, or out in the wild? Is that Fox viewing totally subject
to every problem that i would have without any AWP?
i hope this can be answered and if I am unclear, i would like to
present more so it can be.
Thanks and Best!

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In short. No safety as in "nothing can possible go wrong."
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 28, 2008 11:00 AM PDT

Let's say you go all virtual, proxy and more. Let's say you download some files to your desktop. OK, using the example Safari Carpet Bomb as an idea for an up and coming issue no proxy, spyware scanner could save you from what annoying thing can happen. Don't feel bad if you don't understand the exploit in question but I use it as there is nothing absolutely safe.

Is that good enough?
Bob

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Nope...
by John.Wilkinson / June 28, 2008 3:26 PM PDT

I believe it was PC World (or perhaps PC Magazine) which recently ran a series of tests on sandboxed browsers and found them to offer little to no protection beyond that of a fully-patched system. Why? ZoneLab's ForceField and the like have a selectively permeable wall of protection. In short, it's far from foolproof, especially when you visit a site that is running malicious Javascript, an Adobe Flash application loaded with a buffer overflow attack, etc. Might it block some attacks? Sure. Is such protection worth paying for? Nope, and I wouldn't bet my computer's integrity on it either.

As to proxies, that's a bigger wildcard. Some may store the third-party cookies on their servers and filter/block Javascript/Flash/etc, but if it's just filtered, and not blocked entirely (breaking many websites), you're relying on them to know exactly what's dangerous and what's not. Considering McAfee, Symantec, TrendMicro, etc haven't mastered that form of clairvoyance over the past decade I wouldn't hold out much hope for Jaxxax or any other doing it in a couple months. The only 'guaranteed' protection, and I use that term very lightly, is that your IP address will be masked. Unfortunately the very nature of proxies also means the operator of the proxy has full access to anything you access...if you log into your e-mail account he/she then has access to said account. That's why paid proxy services exist, and even then are used only for public matters.

In short, you're always 'in the wild' to some degree. Running Firefox is Sandboxie and through a proxy may help to some degree, in some aspects, but you're opening yourself up in others. The question is, is it worth the trade-off?

John

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